TrueSpark Launches Breakthrough National Charity Teaching Character to America's Youth in Collaboration with Four Leading Movie Studios

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Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., & Lionsgate provide support for use of inspirational movies to supplement classroom and after-school instruction. Program to positively impact 10,000 participants with inspiring film series.

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The genesis of TrueSpark came from my realization that movies can help build character and illustrate the potential to dream big and succeed. -David Tice, Founder and Chairman of TrueSpark

David Tice, Founder and Chairman, and Dominic Ianno, President and CEO, announce the launch of TrueSpark, an educational nonprofit that is on target to positively impact the lives of 10,000 American youth. The program, working in conjunction with leading youth development organizations and schools with a focus on at-risk youth, has been implemented in 24 states from New York to California.

TrueSpark is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that encourages youth aged 11 to 18 to view mainstream movies with positive messages and participate in interactive educational lessons, discussions, and activities that build character and foster ethical behavior.

TrueSpark’s mission is to expose, immerse, and engage America’s youth on issues of character through watching inspiring movies.

Youth participating in the TrueSpark program watch select movies provided free to eligible organizations with support from the Hollywood studios. Students are engaged by teachers in curriculum-based lessons, discussions, and activities that demonstrate the benefit of positive character in their own lives. TrueSpark works with leading youth organizations such as After-School All-Stars and Boys & Girls Clubs, and charter and public schools including KIPP and Imagine Schools. The program has served over 280 discrete locations since 2010 and continues to expand on a cost effective basis.

The program consists of 50 films and supplemental educational materials that have been developed by experts in the fields of education and character development. TrueSpark’s Movie Selection Committee currently includes Eileen Bakke (founder of Imagine Schools), Nell Minow (The Movie Mom), Madeline Sherak Ph.D., and producers Mark Ciardi (Miracle, The Rookie) and Scott Kroopf (Mr. Holland’s Opus).

Among the films included in the program are The Blind Side, Because of Winn-Dixie, Freedom Writers, Akeelah and the Bee, Smoke Signals, and Stand and Deliver. Positive Character Traits taught through the extensive curriculum include perseverance, creativity, honesty, respect, and empathy.

David Tice, founder of the Prudent Bear mutual fund, created TrueSpark after selling his investment management company in 2008. “The genesis of TrueSpark came from my realization that movies can help build character and illustrate the potential to dream big and succeed. I’m proud to have established a national program that leading youth and educational institutions have adopted as part of their curriculum,”
said Tice. He added, “At TrueSpark, we strive to provide young people with the inspiration and tools to achieve greatness.”

Tice met Ianno, founder of Indomitable Entertainment, in 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival. “David explained his vision of the program, and I felt compelled to use my entertainment business experience to make that dream a reality“ Ianno said. He continued, “Thanks to the support of many of Hollywood’s largest studios, we’ve developed a program that engages kids on the core issues that lead to long term success.”

There is mounting evidence that positive character traits such as perseverance, optimism, and purpose are the most critical factors for ensuring student achievement, surpassing other indicators such as IQ and socio-economic status. Michael Taylor, Chairman of Film & Television Production at USC School of Cinematic Arts added, “We did some research earlier on that actually measured the success of the TrueSpark program and in short what we found was that the program works.”

“We noticed a 50% decrease in behavioral problems in our school after three months of TrueSpark. We attest much of this decrease to TrueSpark,” said Kerri Connelly, Academic Director at Imagine Schools Columbia Leadership Academy. She added, “I know without a doubt, TrueSpark makes a difference.”

The TrueSpark team features Tamar Datan, Executive Director; Janet Robb, Director of Partnerships; Jeni Rulon, Director of Outreach; and Christopher Bishop, Senior Product Manager.

Tice has been the organization’s primary donor during the foundation years, and has been joined by close to one hundred other early supporters. Significant contributions have been made by Anschutz Family Foundation, RBC Wealth Management, RBC Capital Markets, Winston Baker, and additional anonymous donors.

For those wishing to learn more about this worthy cause, please visit To donate, please visit

About TrueSpark:

TrueSpark is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit working in partnership with leading youth development organizations to deliver compelling education programs to at-risk youth aged 8 – 18. Through the use of mainstream, inspiring movies, TrueSpark exposes, immerses, and engages kids in a unique learning experience that sparks the development of positive character traits. Since 2010, TrueSpark has offered its free curriculum to 545 classrooms or groups at 287 unique locations across 24 states. A total of 5,155 participants have completed a TrueSpark series of 5-10 movies, and 5,400 are actively enrolled. For more information, please visit


Tamar Datan
310-857-5730 tdatan(at)truespark(dot)org

Kate Neligan
310-963-8935 kate(at)synergytvnetwork(dot)com

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